copyright Bill Widener 2000

Children of the Corn

I had a great time at Farmers' Market last Saturday - especially after writing about it last Thursday. Although some of the farmers did point out that if I wanted to make a better impression on the public, I might want to wear something other than my bleach-stained Yonder Beer t-shirt, cutoffs and flip-flops.

Sorry. That's what I wear when everything is at the cleaners. And Saturday is technically a day off.

Why don't you work a 70-hour week and see how fresh-faced and dewy you look on the weekends, while I hum a few bars of "I'm every woman."

Not that I'm cranky or anything.

Still, it was so heartening to have so many readers walk up and introduce themselves, and to hear what's on their mind.

To have my finger on the pulse of the heartbeat of Lexington. To meet and greet everyone from cab drivers to bank presidents and so on. (Actually, I kept missing the cab driver, because he kept catching me in-between breaks and I take a lot of breaks.)

More or less, in order of popularity (but not necessarily importance), here is what they had to say:

1. what's the secret to the perfect gazpacho? (answer: the key to any great gazpacho is to marinate all the vegetables - except the tomatoes themselves - overnight, in a really high quality vinegar; then you have to add the juice of several whole limes at the blending phase. Use the pulse setting of puree for the perfect consistency).

2. who's going to be our next mayor? (I have an idea, but am not ready to go on the record.)

3. where can you get the best wax job in town? - and they were speaking of hair removal, not cars. (I'm going to stop answering that question, because I got canceled last Friday, and frankly, I don't want her to get any more popular.)

And finally, the majority of readers and advertisers stopped by to express their enthusiasm for the fact that we've FINALLY added a food column.

"It's about time!!" was the most frequent comment.

After that, the most frequent query was, "hey, can you get your new food critic to review [insert restaurant here]?"

And my answer was, of course, "No."

As I said last week, her autonomy is just about absolute. I can make suggestions - but they have no more or less weight than the opinion of any reader.

If I had my own food column, bear in mind, I would call it, "Bite Me."

I was thinking about that as I was busy sorting tomatoes for Uncle Roland this past Saturday, and a man and his wife walked past, glanced at the cucumbers, and sniffed, loudly and with great disdain in my direction, "THAT's too high."

Thinking that perhaps he thought English was my second language and I couldn't understand his rude tone or the words themselves, I smiled pleasantly and said, "I sure hope you don't mean those cucumbers" (which were priced at maybe, I don't remember, 50 cents each, possibly three for a dollar).

He responded, "Oh I sure do little lady. Those are just way too high."

Now, what I wanted to say was, "Bite me."

Out of deference for the fact that I felt like I was representing - in some small way - local growers in general (and Roland, specifically), I gave him directions to the nearest grocery store, where I assured him they would be happy to provide him with a surfeit of bland, tasteless, processed produce that had been shipped thousands of miles, and would cost twice as much.

That was more than I should have said, but it was a good bit shy of the profanity-laden piece of my mind he almost got.

But I'll tell you right now, I didn't appreciate his condescension. And I didn't appreciate the sentiment behind it either.

Because I have picked many a cucumber in my day. You either do it on your knees, and kill your back, or you do it from a squatting position, which will give you charley horses in both your thighs. You have to wear long sleeves - no matter how hot it is - because the lint from the plants will eat you alive if you don't. Either way, you'll still end up with prickly flesh from head to toe. Also, there are always bugs in the vicinity, and regardless of wardrobe and precautions, your inner elbows will be extensively and painfully stung by sweatbees.

My point is, it is not a fun job. And 50 cents each is NOT much of a markup. They'd be a bargain at a dollar. (I used some in the corn salad I made last night, so I know this for a fact.)

My second point is that somebody had to DO that job, in order for us all to enjoy our Saturday mornings at the Farmers' Market. Not me, but somebody.

And my final point is, the next person who calls me "little lady" as a preface to a lesson in agricultural economics would do well to make sure he's got a running start.